Location: New York City
Why He's Amazing: Because his cooking is exquisite but exceptionally flavorful. For example: seared foie gras with kale, ham broth, smoked pork hocks and pickled black garlic.
Culinary School: California Culinary Academy (San Francisco)
Background: Eleven Madison Park (New York City); Rubicon, Postrio (San Francisco)
Quintessential Dish: Grilled short rib with romaine
Childhood Dream: To be an actor
Learning Through Eating: When Shuman was a child, his mother, a cultural anthropologist, took him to the Arctic to live with the Inuits for 13 months. While there, he ate frozen caribou (thinly sliced) and chunks of fresh seal meat. "It opened my world up." Other memories from his travels with mom: a man on a bus in Costa Rica smashing an orange in his hands and sticking a straw in it, and learning to make tzatziki in Crete.
On Applying to Work at Eleven Madison Park: "At the end of the trail (during which a prospective cook spends time in a kitchen to see if it's a good fit) the chef [Daniel Humm] surprises you with a piece of fish or meat and asks you prepare something that takes less than an hour. I got a piece of cod and prepared him an olive oil–poached cod with kohlrabi and parsley, and he offered me a position."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.